WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Gallaudet University football team has seen their fortunes turn over the course of a month after suffering back-to-back heartbreaking losses to begin the season. The Bison picked up their third win a row Saturday afternoon with a 35-0 shutout against Husson University in an Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) game before a crowd of 350 at Hotchkiss Field.
Gallaudet's defense flexed its muscle and held the Eagles to negative 47 yards rushing and forced Husson quarterback Kash Keezer (17-for-36, 169 yards) to pass the ball where he was intercepted three different times. The Bison (3-2, 2-0 ECFC) held Husson (0-5, 0-2) to 159 total offensive yards and forced seven turnovers and made four sacks. The shutout is the first for Gallaudet since a 37-0 Homecoming win against Becker College on October 24, 2009.
The Bison led 14-0 at halftime and remained unchanged until midway through the third quarter when Gallaudet scored three consecutive touchdowns, two off Husson turnovers and one after a missed 42-yard field goal attempt by the Eagles. GU scored 21 points off Husson turnovers in the game.
Junior quarterback Gabriel Paulone (Fishers, Ind.) orchestrated a five-play, 70-yard drive that ended with junior wide receiver Ryne Worsham (Chicago, Ill.) hauling in his second touchdown of the day on a four-yard pass. Paulone finished the game completing 7-of-9 passes for 122 yards and one touchdown and he ran eight times for 43 yards and one score. Worsham caught four passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns.
Husson ventured into Gallaudet territory on its next drive and covered 40 yards on seven plays when Keezer was intercepted by freshman linebacker Jaris Alleyne (Waldorf, Md.) at the Gallaudet 22-yard line and returned it eight yards. It was the second time Husson got to the Gallaudet 22-yard line but had its drive end with a Bison interception. The first time came in the first quarter when senior defensive back Neal DiMarco (Queens, N.Y.) came down with the interception.
Gallaudet scored five plays later when sophomore running back Miguel Paniagua (Baton Rouge, La.) raced 32 yards to the end zone for his first collegiate touchdown with 1:01 left in the third quarter.
The Bison defense continued to press Keezer on the next possession when sophomore linebacker Matt Harris (Lynchburg, Va.) raced in from the left side, Keezer's blind side, and sacked him as the ball came loose at the 41-yard line. Senior defensive end John Van Wey (Alexandria, Va.) scooped up the loose ball and raced to the end zone for the score as GU led 35-0 with 14:16 left in the game. Van Wey finished the game with four tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss of 32 yards, two sacks for a loss of 26 yards and four quarterback hurries.
Harris led all defenders with seven tackles, four tackles for a loss of 23 yards and one sack for a loss of 13 yards and two forced fumbles. Junior defensive lineman Jared Pearce (Reno, Nev.) recorded the other sack for the Bison and made two fumble recoveries.
The Bison started off on the right foot when they won the coin toss and opted to receive the kickoff. Gallaudet started at its own 41-yard line as sophomore Nick Elstad (Colorado Springs, Colo.) took the hand-off from junior quarterback Anthony Palmer (Unadilla, N.Y.) and ran right towards the Husson sideline before he stopped and looked down field and threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Worsham to start the game. Elstad then scored on a two-point conversion as the Bison led 8-0 just 24 seconds into the game.
Gallaudet had several chances to tack onto its early score but turned the ball over on downs at the Husson 18-yard line and on the next possession junior running back Ryan Bonheyo (Frederick, Md.) fumbled at the Husson 8-yard line. The Bison didn't have to wait long to respond as junior linebacker Shelby Bean (Arvada, Colo.) made an interception at the Gallaudet 4-yard line to deny Keezer and the Eagles of cracking the scoreboard midway through the second quarter.
The Bison then used a 63-yard pass from Paulone to Elstad on the next play to drive GU into Husson territory. Six plays later, Paulone ran in from three yards out for the touchdown. Sophomore kicker Jeremy Cormier (Methuen, Mass.) missed the extra-point attempt as the Bison led 14-0 with 3:48 left before halftime.
Husson receiver Ben Foss led the Eagles with seven catches for 80 yards while teammate Devin Sherman made five catches for 67 yards. Sophomore defensive lineman Ernest Wiggins made a game-high 13 tackles, four tackles for a loss of eight yards and one sack for a loss of five yards.
Gallaudet will next travel to Norwich University (3-3, 3-0) on Saturday, October 15, at 1 p.m. in a key ECFC match-up.